posted on 3rd Nov 2023 14:02
A novelty of the Polish industry in the field of locomotives was a triple-voltage version of the Griffin - Type E4MSUa, with a maximum speed of 200 km/h for PKP IC. Historically, it was not the first multiple-voltage locomotive from this family, as Newag (more precisely, the then ZNLE Gliwice) had already produced a prototype E4MSU-001 (5 370 012) in 2012, designed for operation on 3, 15 and 25 kV voltages, but with a top speed of only 140 km/h. It remains in the possession of the manufacturer, is approved for operation in Poland and is leased to local operators, currently to Jaxan.
Since the prototype was built, however, only purely 3 kV DC Griffins of the Type E4DCUd (Class EU160) with a top speed of 160 km/h and with Last Mile diesel, as expressed by the "d" in the designation, were produced for PKP IC. It was not until 22 October 2021 that the operator signed a contract for the delivery of ten machines of the follow-on design, triple-voltage ones and with a top speed of 200 km/h.
They are designated as Type (Class) E4MSUa, where "E" indicates the electric locomotive, "4" the number of axles, "MS" multisystem, "U" universal and "a" without any specific meaning expresses the difference from the previous version, i. e. that it is the second generation of the locomotive, as in the case of the Dragon type E6ACTa (for completeness, the letter "b" indicates the presence of the ETCS Level 2 OBU).
The contract included an option for five additional triple-voltage Griffins, which was confirmed by PKP IC in June 2023. The total value of the contract is around 388 million PLN.
In the meantime, on 2 March 2023, the operator also signed a contract for 20 more 160 km/h E4DCUd Griffins, which are to be delivered within 19 months from the signing of the contract, i. e. by October 2024, and will follow the already operating batch of 30 identical machines delivered between March and November 2020.
The Class E4MSUa locomotives are designed and equipped for operation in Poland, Germany, Austria, Czech Republic, Slovakia and Hungary. This means that in the segment of four-axle express locomotives it is a new design in such a geographically interoperable design and, apart from the Vectrons and TRAXXes, it is also the next one on the market, since the Škoda-built Emil Zátopek locomotives can be considered as a closed chapter before PESA eventually enters this category or before CRRC comes up with its own design (which may not be far off, as Radim Jančura suggested last year).
The locomotive has a rather considerable length over the buffers of 19,900 mm (e. g. for Vectrons it is 18,980 mm). The rated power is 5,720 kW and the highest power 6,500 kW, starting tractive effort 310 kN and tractive effort at top speed 115 kN. The total weight is 89 t (± 3%) and the diameter of the new wheelsets is 1,250 mm, or 1,170 mm worn.
As of mid-October, the first two E4MSUs were completed and the third one was in final assembly. On TRAKO fair E4MSUa-002 (5 370 078) was on display, which is decorated on the sidewalls with vinyls of the Griffin - a mythical animal with the body of a lion and the head and wings of an eagle. A photo of the driver's cab shows that the locomotive has a right-hand (rather than symmetrical) driver‘s desk arrangement.
E4MSUa-001arrived in early October 2023 to the OETD IK circuit in Źmigród. The stay on the circuit was followed in October by test runs at speeds up to 200 km/h on the PKP PLK network. During these, E4MSUa-001 reached 240 km/h on the night of 19 - 20 October.
The triple-voltage Griffins will be located in the Warszawa-Olszynka Grochowska depot (just like the Class E4DCUd single-voltage Griffins). PKP IC expects to use them in domestic service as early as the second half of 2024, with deliveries of all 15 locomotives to be completed within 42 months after the contract is signed, i. e. by April 2025.
Approval for operation abroad is to be achieved within 60 months after the contract is awarded, i. e. by April 2025. They are to be used primarily for direct services on routes connecting Berlin with Warszawa, Przemyśl and Gdynia (where they will complement the current Husarz/Taurus locomotives) and also from Wien to Gdynia via Warszawa and Katowice.